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Three men found guilty of laundering $2.5 million in Target gift card tech support scam

Three California residents have been convicted of laundering millions of dollars obtained through government-imposter and tech support scams targeting older adults. The scheme involved making phone calls from overseas to elderly US citizens, deceiving them with false claims about their computer or mobile device having serious problems that could only be resolved by purchasing Target gift cards. The victims were also tricked into believing they were in trouble with the government or police, leading them to make urgent payments via Target gift cards. The scammers then instructed the victims to share the card details and access codes over the phone. The gift card details were later shared with runners who used the funds associated with the cards to buy consumer electronics and other items from multiple Target stores. The convicted individuals, Blade Bai, Bowen Hu, and Tairan Shi, received over 5,000 gift cards from a Chinese group called “Magic Lamp” and sold the details via the WeChat messaging app. Law enforcement agencies estimate that the men laundered more than $2.5 million in gift cards between June 2019 and November 2020. Bai, who was previously arrested in November 2020 and released on bond, was later involved in another money-laundering scheme involving Target gift cards, leading to his arrest in February 2022. All three men have been found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering, with Bai facing an additional conviction for money laundering conspiracy. Sentencing is scheduled for January 26, 2024, and the maximum prison sentence for each count of conspiracy to launder money is 20 years.

Key Points:
– Three Californian residents have been convicted of laundering millions of dollars obtained through government-imposter and tech support scams.
– The scheme involved making phone calls to elderly US citizens, tricking them into purchasing Target gift cards to resolve fake computer or mobile device problems or government-related issues.
– The scammers instructed the victims to share the gift card details and access codes, which were then used by runners to buy consumer electronics and other items from Target stores.
– The convicted individuals received over 5,000 gift cards from a Chinese group and sold the details through the WeChat messaging app.
– Law enforcement agencies estimate that more than $2.5 million in gift cards were laundered between June 2019 and November 2020.
– One of the convicted individuals, Blade Bai, was involved in another money-laundering scheme despite being under investigation, leading to his subsequent arrest.
– All three individuals have been found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering, with Bai also convicted of money laundering conspiracy.
– Sentencing is scheduled for January 26, 2024, and a maximum prison sentence of 20 years could be imposed for each count of conspiracy to launder money.

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